New England

November, 2006
Regional Report

Inspect Plants for Mealybugs and Scale

Despite close inspection when you brought them indoors, plants that have summered outside may be hiding some hitchhiking mealybugs and scale that can spread to other plants. Periodically take a close look at the main stems and in the axils of the leaves (where they attach to the stem). Mealybugs are somewhat easier to spot than scale because they have a white cottony coating. Scale have a hard, often brownish, shell-like covering. Both can be controlled in the early stages by rubbing them off with Q-tips dipped in alcohol. A severely infested plant will need a spray with lightweight horticultural oil.

Keeping Flowering Plants Cool

Amaryllis, cyclamen, and most other blooming holiday plants will last longer if kept on the cool side and out of direct sunlight. If you wish to make sure some flowers don't fade before a big event, you can keep the plants in a cool part of the basement for a few days and bring them out the day you need them. Cool temperatures also will help to keep flower stalks more sturdy and not leggy.

Use Colored Stones and Gravel

Dress up the soil surface of featured indoor plants with colored marbles, colored stones, aquarium gravel, or shells. Craft stores and pet stores have much to offer.

Storing Soil and Fertilizers

Leftover bags of fertilizers and soil amendments will not only tempt mice over the winter, they also can collect moisture and turn lumpy, and paper bags can start disintegrating. Pick up some inexpensive plastic containers to store the bags in; they can also make it easier to dispense the material next time you need it.

Wrap Small Evergreens

Protect young or borderline-hardy evergreens from winter sun and wind. Set four stakes around a plant close to the branches, then wrap burlap around the outside of the stakes and over the top, and secure it with twist ties poked through the burlap.

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